Rahul dares Maya; pledges to fight for farmers

VARANASI, May 18 (PTI): Unfazed by the attack on his claims on the alleged police brutality in the villages of Greater Noida, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday appeared to justify those remarks saying people there had complained to him about the atrocities they were subjected to. Declaring a war against Mayawati government, he said Congress would go to every village of the state and fight for ousting the government. He also demanded a judicial inquiry into the violence in Bhatta-Parsaul villages he visited last week to empathise with the farmers agitating against land acquisition.
“Locals said that they were ready to give land. Women and poor farmers in the village told me, see what is happening to us. Why our houses are being burnt? Why are we beaten up? These questions are being asked,” he said addressing a two-day convention of the party here. “The Uttar Pradesh government says all is well in Bhatta Parsaul. Then why Section 144 (prohibitory orders) has been imposed there. If everything is alright, why people are fleeing? If everything is alright, why a judicial probe is not being ordered? Free and fair inquiry is the need of the hour to fix responsibility”, Gandhi said.
Rahul’s remarks come in the wake of media reports quoting villagers in Bhatta-Parsaul about the alleged police atrocities but disclaiming knowledge of rape of women and burning of farmers. Challenging BSP, which says that he lacked issues, Rahul said that he had a lot of issues and time and would reach all the village of the state to fight with common man. “I will reach every corner of the state and fight with you holding your hands. We will fight them (UP government) in every village and we will throw them out,” Gandhi said adding it was not a fight for elections.
While Gandhi himself remained silent on the veracity of the allegations he made after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, Congress party came out in his defence saying he only repeated what the villagers told him. “Whatever has come in media in unfortunate. Nowhere did he (Gandhi) mention the number of 74 or 74 bodies. Rahul Gandhi had only said that at one place an ash heap of 70 foot area was there in which bones were found,” Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi Dwivedi told reporters in New Delhi.

Cong defensive after Rahul’s remark in UP

With his comments on burnt bodies and rape of women in Greater Noida villages triggering a major controversy, Congress on Wednesday initiated a damage- control exercise saying Rahul Gandhi did not say that 74 persons have been killed there. Party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi maintained that Gandhi merely repeated to the media what the villagers told him after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. The party stuck to his demand that UP government should probe into the allegations of burning of men and rape of women.
“Whatever has come in media in unfortunate. Nowhere did he (Gandhi) mention the number of 74 or 74 bodies. Rahul Gandhi had only said that at one place an ash heap of 70 foot area was there in which bones were found,” Dwivedi told reporters. His comments came in the wake of media reports quoting villagers of Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida that while there was police brutality, there was no complaint of rape of women and burning of men. Asked what the party has to say on the allegation of Gandhi that women had been raped and people murdered in the villages, Dwivedi said,”... this is a matter of investigation.
It should be investigated. If bones have been found, whose bones are these should be found out. And if atrocities have taken place against women and they were even beaten up, why has it happened.” He added “people must have told him (Gandhi). He was not present there. He went later on. Whatever has been told to him, he must have repeated that. Naturally whenever you go after some incidents, whatever people tell you, you repeat those things. “That matter should be investigated. If it is not correct, it is alright. But if it is correct, it is a very serious matter. Whatever may be the fact, this should come out.”
When asked whether the controversies will affect Congress plans to take up farmers’ agitation issue now, he said the party is agitating over an issue and is serious about it He said that while there is an issue of food shortage on one hand, the farmer’s land is shrinking on the other hand adding “the concern about decrease in agricultural land is natural.” He also said that there are land acquisition laws in different states and they are doing well in some of them including the Congress-ruled Haryana.
Mayawati to start nationwide stir to counter Rahul Gandhi
LUCKNOW, May 18 (agencies): BSP supremo and UP chief minister Mayawati on Wednesday morning held a meeting with party office-bearers, MPs, MLAs and ministers. She issued directions to hold a nationwide agitation against Congress led UPA government’s decision to hike petrol price on May 31. She said that petrol price hike will have a cascading effect increasing the inflation rate further. The May 31 agitation, she said, would mark the start of campaign to make people aware of anti-people policies of the UPA II. Maya’s move is being seen as a counter to Congress’s campaign against BSP government in UP over farmer unrest due to land acquisition at Bhatta-Parsaul in Gautambudhnagar.
Maya, while addressing party leaders, said that the petrol price hike shows that Congress does not care about people. She said that the hike was announced immediately after elections in five states, which shows that how Congress made people a fool. “Such a move if taken earlier would have wiped out Congress in the elections,” she said. Now, she added, the UPA government is planning to increase prices of diesel, kerosene and LPG. She said that petrol has 14% share in the price index, hence increase in inflation is inevitable following increase in the petrol prices fuel price hike. It would result in increase prices of essential products an services. Maya described Centre’s explanation that public sector oil companies were suffering a huge loss due to subsidy on petrol price hike following increase in petrol prices at international level as a lame excuse.
She claimed that the Central government gave a Rs 4 lakh crore subsidy relief package to corporate in 2008-09 to fight recession. In 2009-10, when the growth rate was 6.8%, the Centre again gave a subsidy relief package of about Rs 4 lakh crore to the corporate world. Now, when the growth rate of the economy is around 8%, the UPA Government has given relief package of Rs 4.5 lakh crore to the corporate. This, she said, proves that the ‘hand’ of the Congress is not with the common man but it was ‘hand in glove’ with the capitalists. Elaborating the steps taken by the BSP government to provide some relief to the people from the increase in the petrol prices done by Central government, Mayawati said that the cooking gas was made ‘tax free’ since June 7 2008 in UP. Besides, the VAT rate levied on diesel was decreased from 21% to 17.23 %.